Walmart is filled with controversy, yet despite their questionability, they do have an impressive chocolate selection these days. The usual averages are there, but so are some nicer brands. I’d never heard of Hageland, a Belgian company, before; the five or so bars on the shelf looked worth giving a try. I came away with just the first one to get my attention.
It was all about the picture — not your usual chocolate cover. I wish they said something about it, though. Did they just think it looked cool? Or is it an artifact from Costa Rica, where the trinitario cacao is from? Anyway, for a first try, 71% is a good place to start. The Rainforest Alliance stamp implies that Hageland is a serious company. As does the no-junk ingredients list of cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla.
I found myself intently studying the design of the bar itself once I’d ripped off its coverings. The eight large, Lindt-sized squares have raised edges on the top and bottom, with the face in the middle lifted to a gentle curve. It makes the chocolate look elegant and strong at the same time. The aroma is filled with deep cocoa.
The flavor is a bit bitter, but tempered with plenty of cocoa notes. The spice is even held down by some shy sweetness hiding in the dark. It has a good mouthfeel, as well. I’m rather liking it. I can’t decided whether I should call it “simple” or “bold,” so turning to the back of the box, part of the description calls it a “delightfully traditional smooth dark chocolate.” “Traditional” encapsulates it. The simplicity comes from going for a chocolate format that works, while the boldness comes from the enjoyable flavors. Traditional, not average.
It’s certainly nice to find something like this in a place like Walmart, where you can actually find it without going out of your way. This bar seems like it’ll appeal to a variety of dark chocolate lovers. I don’t know what the “limited selection” on the front means, though; maybe you’ll need to hurry if you want to try it.